Wisdom Tooth Removal in St. Albert
Our third molars, or wisdom teeth as they have come to be known, commonly present in our late ‘teens to early adulthood. Being as large as they are and as far back, these teeth can cause discomfort as they emerge through our gums as week as complications beneath the surface.
Wisdom teeth can present complications as they emerge, since in many cases the dental arches are not large enough to allow them to establish themselves in their ideal positioning. Because of this, it is common for wisdom teeth to become impacted. Impacted teeth are teeth that are prevented from fully emerging and can become stuck in various positions within the jaw or gums. Wisdom teeth may present vertically, horizontally or at an angle. The teeth can become stuck in the jaw bone, between the bone and soft tissue, or can emerge partly beyond the soft gum tissue while part of it remains encased.
The wisdom teeth are more difficult to clean, since they are recessed in the back of the mouth. This means that it is easier for food debris and bacteria to become trapped, and for infection to set in. When this occurs, it is critical to address the infection. Antibiotics may be offered in order to help the body fight the infection, but the infection is likely to return. Infections in the tissues in and around the wisdom teeth are taken quite seriously by your dental professional, since the roots of wisdom teeth are often so long that they can extend deep into the tissues and even into the sinus cavity. In these cases, the best course of action is to remove the teeth in order to mitigate the risk of systemic infection.
Wisdom teeth are also at risk of developing dentigerous cysts. These cysts typically form near or around the ends of wisdom teeth and may not announce themselves. Without any symptoms, these cysts can inflate like balloons and cause erosion to the structures of the bone and other tooth roots that surround them. The only way to confirm their presence? Digital X-rays! This is why it is so important to see your dentist regularly for dental exams and professional cleanings. These preventative measures can mitigate the risk of developing a condition that is increasingly difficult to reverse as it progresses – saving you the distress of emergent procedures. One sign of cyst development can be shifting in the neighbouring teeth, so if you see your teeth drifting out of their placement, be sure to give our offices a call to book at appointment.
Signs of Infection
Signs of infection in wisdom teeth include pain when chewing, restriction in the ability to open the mouth comfortably, swelling of the gums and/or lymph nodes and a bitter/sour/metallic taste weeping from the gum tissue around the tooth. Abscesses can be evidenced by pimple-like formations along the gums – all reasons to get in to see your dentist right away.
Removing Wisdom Teeth
While there are some cases where wisdom teeth will be referred to a specialist for removal, these are typically related to complications involving the root placement around the nerve or proximity to the sinuses. Your dentist will be able to determine whether it is safe to remove the offending tooth in their offices based on the information that is presented by your digital imaging results.
Despite wisdom teeth being large, they are commonly safely removed under local anesthetic right here in our offices. We may need to place a stitch or two if a soft tissue incision is required to allow access to the tooth, but your dentist will be able to discuss the details of your circumstances with you as they prepare for the procedure. You will be provided with the information you need to care for the socket once the tooth is removed, and you will be given instructions as to what medications you will require in order to control any discomfort after the procedure. This typically includes instructions to place an ice pack on the outside of the cheek to control pain and swelling, and to drink cold beverages and consume soft foods to soothe the area and avoid agitating the incision. You will be able to increase the texture of your foods gradually following the procedure, based upon your comfort level.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about wisdom tooth extractions is the need to protect the socket from any sucking action that could dislodge the natural clot that forms over the exposed nerve. Using a straw to drink fluids is strictly discouraged after wisdom tooth removal, since losing this clot leads to significant discomfort and may require a follow-up procedure to pack the wound and limit contact to the nerve by food, air and liquids.
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